Self-help Groups for 2000 poor women in S. Africa

Sep 21, 2011

SHG members solve the problem of safely crossing the river!

Crossing the river near the new bridge being built
Crossing the river near the new bridge being built

Sisonke Cluster Level Association (CLA) was formed in October 2010 and represents a cluster of seven Self-help Groups (SHGs), with over 100 SHG members, located near Stanger in KwaZulu-Natal. The CLA meets monthly
at a local crèche in KwaMaphumulo.  The area is rich in vegetation but some of the basic resources such as clean running water and electricity are just a dream for this community. The community members have to travel long distances to the nearest clinic.

The village is also divided by the wide uMvoti river that snakes through the village. Community members, including school children and teachers, have to cross the river on foot to the other side of the community because there is no bridge. The CLA discussed this issue, amongst others, and decided to select a sub-committee to approach the local councillor. 

The committee met with the councillor, Mr Nalane, in March 2011 and presented the groups’ frustrations about the lack of a clinic in the area and the bridge. Their request for the bridge was referred to the Provincial Minister of Transport, Mr Willis Mchunu, who met with the CLA members and agreed that they will start the process of building the bridge.  After this meeting the surveyors came to the area and the plan was passed. The work on the bridge has since started.

This really motivated the CLA since the community members had lost a lot of their belongings - groceries, cellphones, books and money were often swept away in flowing water while trying to cross the river. This had been an everyday life for years and it became a norm that during rainy seasons there was no school or access to the road or shops.  This recent outcome has also earned the women in the SHGs much respect from the local men and other community members.

The women have used their power in numbers to influence decision-makers in the area and this will benefit the whole community. They look forward to walking across their new bridge in the coming months!

Many thanks to all our donors over the last few months. There is still a long way to go to reach our target, so please would you consider making another donation in 2011 in order to help Sinamandla assist up to 2 000 vulnerable women in poor communities before the end of this year. Please do think of any family member or friend who would be interested in the work of Sinamandla through its Self-help Groups and do forward them our website link. Do be in touch if you think of ideas as to how Sinamandla can attract wider support.


SHG members who influenced the bridge being built
SHG members who influenced the bridge being built



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Pietermaritzburg, KZN, South Africa

Project Leader

Philip Donnell

Pietermaritzburg, KZN South Africa

Where is this project located?

Map of Self-help Groups for 2000 poor women in S. Africa